Monday, October 18, 2010

Garden Conservancy Open Days Tour 2010

My plan on Saturday for the Garden Conservancy Open Days tour was to get started early and tour as many gardens as quickly and efficiently as possible before the baby needed me the Longhorns played Nebraska. My plan was slightly foiled as baby slept until 9:15 (!), but I really wasn't complaining as that meant I slept until 9:15.And my delay fortuitously meant that I ran into Pam of Digging at the first garden, Utility Research Garden.(Here's Pam's post.) I loved this space as I do any that shows such creativity, in particular the use of the ordinary in unusual ways, such as these cast-iron plants:Or these agaves planted in a gentle curve:Or found objects reused in unusual ways: The center is an eclectic mix of art, plants, music, and even a small farm. Some of its fruits and vegetables were for sale, like these gourds:and these radishes:Next stop on the tour was the infamous East Side Patch, where I took no pictures because 1) I couldn't take any better ones than Philip already has and 2) I was too in awe. As wonderful as Philip's photos are, his garden is even more magical in person. One day, my backyard will look 1/100th as wonderful as his.

Moving on I headed to Pemberton Heights where I was transfixed by the neighbor's Halloween decorations before I even reached the garden on tour.This garden has an amazing view of downtown Austin and a delightful and gracious owner who shared with me the history of the house (her mother had it built in 1951; she moved in and remodeled after her mother's death) and the street (she pointed out the other original houses as well the ones that had undergone complete transformations) and offered ice-cold bottled water to all the tour guests.These windows in the rear of the house capture the view of the Capitol and a teensy bit of hte UT tower. The garden is primarily in shade so uses shades of green and different textures for variety.

The next house and garden had even more amazing views of all of downtown Austin from the front yard,
as well as from the side yard with the pool and hot tub: The side yards also had views of Lake AustinIn comparison to the front yard, the back yard up a hillside was relatively small but still contained a swing set, a playhouse, a putting green, two or three seating areas, and a pet cemetery: and a fountain: a basketball court and a driveway. Okay, so maybe it wasn't so small after all but relative to the front and side yards it was still bigger than my entire house and lot minuscule.

These four gardens were the only ones I planned to visit as I had already spent more time away from my son than I had since he was born almost seven months ago. I had seen the other two gardens on a previous tour. But DH assured me that he and the boy were fine so I continued on to James David and Gary Peese's garden.

Along the way I stumbled upon this flock of flamingos and wished I could have taken a few home with me:
Having been to this garden twice previously, I focused on the areas that were new to me, particularly the garden areas around the studio:
In a garden this huge, I'm sometimes overwhelmed and find myself focusing on smaller details like this orchid in the greenhouse:or this penta(?) bloomor these crispy okra:At Deborah Hornickel's much more manageably sized garden, I still found myself drawn to the details, probably because of sensory overload at this point in the day. And because the details are so pretty, like these shells: and this post decoration:
Probably my favorite garden novelty of the day was this bronze fennel trimmed to match the other shrub balls in the front yard: But the best way to end the day was with a sighting of Wally, looking slightly worse for wear, in Deborah's Russian sage.(Please resist any urge to disabuse me of any notion that this swallowtail wasn't in fact Wally. Or you will force me to stick fingers in my ears and sing, "La, la, la," until you stop.)


  1. Your photos are great. We were attracted to a lot of the same things (the skull), the neighbor's Halloween decoration (the most tasteful, scary ones I've ever seen--I didn't think to take a photo, so I'm glad you did.

    I'm always interested in the differences, too. Your post just might motivate me to write my own.

  2. I was creeped OUT by those Halloween ghouls on the front porch. Glad you got a photo. I was too frightened to stop. ;-) I'm envious that you got to talk to the owner at that house. It sounds like she had a lot of history of the area to share.

    I love seeing things I missed, like the garden of cast-iron plants at the Util. Res. Garden--I totally missed those! The vegetables were just coming out of crates when I arrived. I see they were nicely displayed by the time you got back to the greenhouse.

    And you got a much better shot of James David's new pipe fountain than I managed, although I took pics from several vantage points trying to capture it.

    It was fun to run into you at my first stop. I'm glad the baby let you see all of the gardens.

  3. KILLER photography of those scenes...esp like the flamingo herd, the gabion fountain, and the pool axis shots.

  4. I'm so happy you had a Wally reunion! Cool photos. The Utility Research and ESP gardens are my favorites. It's difficult for me to imagine that Pemberton garden is even in Austin--makes for an interesting contrast to my favorites.

  5. waooooooooooooooo beautifulll amazing :) great

  6. We went to only three gardens: ESP, Deborah Hornickel's and the Utility garden. Your photos make me think we should have tried to fit in the Pemberton, Vertie. It looks like you chose a fine event for the first day spent away from the boy in 7 months.

    I took a few photos that will probably be memories rather than a post- all glaring midday sun. I'm glad you caught the Cast iron plants and that Pam took a photo of the super soft pine tree.

    Once we figured out they were for sale, DH bought radishes and burgundy yardlong beans from the research garden -they were delicious!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  7. Yahoo for Jack's first garden tour! And to meet Wally again. I just know it WAS Wally. Great pictures, too. And super great you got to sleep until 9:15!!! That Jackboy is truly considerate already.

  8. Fantastic pictures and delightful commentary, as always, Vertie! It's amazing that the Cote d'Azur house is in Austin and fun that you were able to tour its gardens!

  9. I can't believe you were able to leave Jack for an entire day! I want to take Augie with me everywhere. We both cry when I head off to work without him. Thank goodness he is welcome on the CTG set and I'm able to take him to the Master Gardener classes (which, sadly, are almost over now).

    But if you ever see me with a doggie-bjorn, please slap me back to reality(it's not my fault that my "mommy" urges are in overdrive!)

  10. Oooh! What a marvelous pile of 'Tromboncino' squashes and radishes. I'm partial to that row of agave, too.

    Congratulations on the birth of The World's Cutest Baby! I really enjoyed your tomato post and would love it if you'd submit it for the next issue of How to Find Great Plants:

  11. What beautiful photos, I need to get out to this again someday...

  12. Oh my! what a great photos indeed..lovin it all.=D